CLES to advise new Community Wealth Building Unit

Yesterday, in Preston, the launch of a new Community Wealth Building Unit was announced by Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, John McDonnell.

In his announcement to develop inclusive and democratic local economies he praised the work of Preston City Council, which has returned more than £200 million to the local economy by using the town’s anchor institutions and local government contracts to keep money in the local economy and develop worker-owned cooperatives.

Informed by a 10 year local wealth building programme, which has included collaboration within a number of local areas and agencies across the UK (including Preston) and internationally, CLES will be providing independent advice to develop the work of the unit.

Alongside CLES, the Unit will bring together councillors, unions, think tanks, and independent experts with experience of delivering frontline change to provide councils with knowledge, advice, and practical support in adopting creative methods to secure and provide vital services and stimulate sustainable economic development for communities in the face of austerity.

Neil McInroy commented: ‘We have been working with local councils on wealth building activities for a number of years, and have witnessed the real impact this approach has had to many people’s lives. It is heartening that a national political party has recognised the importance of this work, and developed a unit to help to amplify community wealth building. This approach is something we have long argued for and so we look forward to giving independent advice to the new unit, and helping many more local councils further their own work in this area’.

The complete list of those advising the Community Wealth Building Unit includes:

  • The Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) is a think tank dedicated to social justice, good local economies, and effective public services.
  • The Democracy Collaborative is an American-based organisation engaged in practical and intellectual work to connect community wealth building to system economic transformation, including more democratised forms of ownership, ecological sustainability, and community renewal.
  • Councillor Matthew Brown, Preston, is one of the leading figures behind the Preston model.
  • Unison is one of the UK’s largest unions, representing 1.3m members employed in providing public services, including at the local level.
  • The Association of Public Service Excellence (APSE) is a not for profit local government body working with councils across the UK to promote excellence in local public service delivery. APSE will be providing independent advice to the Community Wealth Building Unit.
  • The Cooperative Party is the political party of the Cooperative movement, which promotes democratic, public ownership.
  • Centre for Urban Research on Austerity is a research project based at DeMontford University that looks at government and community responses to austerity across the world, and facilitates learning and knowledge exchange to improve public services and community resilience.